- Conductive Fabric (strechable fabric)
- Fusible Interfacing (double and single sided - check your local fabric store)
- small nickel plated sew snaps
- conductive thread
- foam or thick felt
- regular thread/ needles
- a cheap/used toy with multiple buttons such as a keyboard (I used a keyboard from a thrift store for $1.00)
- neoprene (or other sturdy, strechy fabric)
- a bra (preferably a bra that snaps in the front - unlike this sports bra used in this project, a front snap bra will make the bra easier to take on and off - this sports bra is not stretchy enough after sewing in the interfacing (I learned afterwards the importance of strechy conductive fabric and interfacing) You could also cut the front of a sports bra and introduce a velcro piece)
- multiple color wires
- soldering iron
- hot glue
Step 1: Open Your Toy
This keyboard had quite a few buttons. The less the easier and less confusing. You must find the main component you want to use for your bra which has the 'brain' of the toy. My keyboard had a small square board that all the wires connect to. You can snip these wires and toss out the other boards.
- strip the wires and with batteries connected touch the metal part of the wires to one another to generate sound. Mark the ones you like and/or snip the ones you will not be using. Remember, the less connections the easier :)
You can check step 3 of Plusea's "Wearable Piano Interface" if you require more info about understanding your circuit (https://www.instructables.com/id/S0ICVL3FNNK182A/)
Step 2: Make Fabric Buttons
- Make a template of your bra cup where you have 4 strips going across and 4 strips going up and down (I just used paper for my template). These pieces should have a gap in between so the circuit does not short. Just lay your bra down that you will use for this project and try your best to make a template that fits well in the cup.
- Cut a piece of foam a little larger than your fabric buttons.
- make small holes where your buttons will connect. The holes shouldn't be larger than the tip of your pinky. Larger may cause the fabric to touch each other unexpectedly (with out you pressing it) - too small of holes will require that you press the button very hard to make a connection... and that could be painful ladies.
- use your one sided interfacing and cut a piece the size of your foam piece
- pin the conductive fabric to the interfacing then iron on.
- Place the foam in between
- sew the interfacing -top and bottom with foam inbetween together like a sandwich. Instant buttons!!
Now test! I test frequently throughout my work so I can catch any glitches before I get too far ahead of myself.
Use banana clips and connect to the wires of your keyboard circuit board. Press the buttons and make sure it makes a connection and you're getting sound. Adjust the hole sizes if you need to press too hard.
Does it work? GREAT! Make another one for the other breast - make sure you flip your template to mirror the first set of buttons.
Step 3: Iron on Circuits
Next we need to cut out strips of conductive fabric and double sided interfacing to make the circuits go around the back of the bra. I thought using the fabric was much faster than sewing but you are welcome to use conductive thread instead of fabric. Some parts I did sew because the area was too tight. I highly RECOMMEND gluing all knots of the thread with a small dab of hot glue. Conductive thread tends to fray and unwind. Gluing it ensures that it does not touch others and short circuit.
I highly recommend pinning the interfacing and the fabric to the bra before ironing. It's tragic when you lift the iron and your fabric got all twisted or bent :( None of the circuit paths should touch or overlap one another.
Make sure that a piece of the conductive fabric is connected to the buttons in the cups.
Wrap and iron on the conductive fabric all around to the center of the bra back. Leave a little extra for testing.
It looks sort of cool and sort of a mess - but all of this will be covered up in the end.
Now test! Make sure your buttons work.
Step 4: Soft Battery Pack
Snip the wires from your circuit board to your batteries. Make sure they're long enough. If they are not or the wires are flimsy, replace with sturdier wires.
I used some neoprene which is cozy and stretches without fraying. But you could use other fabric if you like. I laid the two batteries on the fabric and cut a piece that could fold around and over.
On the bottom of the battery pack (before you sew - where the bottom of the batteries will sit) place a piece of conductive fabric and iron on with the double sided interfacing. Just a little square so the bottom of the batteries touch it.
On the top flap sew some large wads with conductive thread to touch the top of your batteries. I also included some conductive fabric squares but you don't need both. Make sure the thread goes all the way through and sew your wires onto the top flap. Just bend the wire into a loop before sewing and wrap thread around and sew onto the neoprene.
Secure the connection to the wires with some hot glue. Then sew a piece of velcro to the flap so it stays securely closed. Make sure that the conductive thread touches the tops of the batteries tightly.
Step 5: Rewire
Step 6: Speaker Installation
Solder the top snap of sewable snap pins to the speaker wires.
Attach a piece of sticky velcro (or hot glue it) to the back of the speaker and sew the other piece to the center of the bra (or wherever you would like the speaker - armpits are not recommended).
Sew the snap pins to the bra with conductive thread and continue the circuit around the back of the bra. None of the circuit paths should be touching one another at all.
Step 7: Sew on Snap Connections
Make sure that the pins are secured strongly. Place a dab of hot glue on the threaded knots on the underside of the bra.
Step 8: Circuit Board Platform
Use velcro or glue your circuit board to the neoprene in a location where you can easily attach your wires (so you're not covering where the snaps will go)
Make loops in the wire so you can easily sew the wires to the neoprene. Sew the wires with conductive thread so it connects to the snap location on the back of the bra. You must sew the top snap to the underside of the neoprene to make a connection to the rest of the bra. Please see the pictures for clarification.
After the circuit board and snaps are sewed in, add a dab of glue on the threaded knots.
Place the other piece of neoprene on top of the circuit and sew together around the edges. Be careful not to smash your circuit board in the process.
Step 9: Cover Up Circuit Paths
Attach your platform to the back of the bra. Add a piece of velcro for the battery pack to stick on the back.
Attach the speaker to the front of the bra.
If the connection isn't working, make sure ALL snaps are connected securely. Sometimes taking the battery out and placed back inside will restart the toy.
Voila! You have a musical bra!